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How to Use the Airport's Self-Service Check-in Kiosks

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Many airlines have switched to self-service check-in kiosks, especially for domestic flights. If you've never used a kiosk before, we'll walk you through the process.

Difficulty: Average

Time Required: Varies

Here's How:

  1. When you reach the head of your airline’s check-in line, you’ll see a row of kiosks, which are free-standing computer screens, instead of a customer service representative. Your airline will have an employee available to print out your baggage tags and place your bags on the conveyor belt, but you’ll need to check in for your flight first.
     
  2. Walk up to an open kiosk, bringing your luggage with you. The kiosk will prompt you to identify yourself, either by inserting a credit card (don’t worry, it won’t be charged), typing in your flight confirmation code or entering your frequent flyer number. You won’t see a keyboard; enter your identifying information using the “keyboard” shown on the touch screen. You’ll be able to touch a “clear” or “backspace” key if you make a mistake.
     
  3. If you have already checked in for your flight online, you will probably be able to scan your printed boarding pass at the kiosk. When you scan your boarding pass, the kiosk will identify you and begin the luggage check-in process.
     
  4. You should now see a screen which shows your name and air travel itinerary. You’ll probably be asked to confirm your flight information by touching an “OK” or “enter” button on the screen.
     
  5. You will be able to review and change your seat assignment during the check-in process. Be careful; some airlines have the seat assignment screen default to a page which will entice you to pay extra to upgrade your seat. If you’ve swiped a credit card to identify yourself, be sure to skip the seat upgrade option unless you really intend to use it, as the kiosk already has your credit card information.
     
  6. Next, you’ll be asked about checked baggage. You may be able to enter the number of bags you want to check, but some touch screens use an up- or down- arrow system or a “+” and “-“ key instead. In that case, you will touch the up arrow or plus sign to increase the total number of bags on the screen. You will need to press “OK” or “enter” to confirm the number of bags you’re checking.
     
  7. At this point, the kiosk should begin to print your boarding pass (or passes, if you have a connecting flight). The customer service representative will walk over to your kiosk and ask if you’re traveling to your destination city. Identify yourself and place your bags on the scale. The customer service representative will tag your bags and put them onto the conveyor belt. S/he will clip your luggage claim tags into a folder and either hand you the folder or ask you for your boarding pass, which will also go inside the folder.
     
  8. The customer service representative will probably tell you what gate to go to, but you can also find this information on your boarding pass. Head over to the security gate – you’re all checked in.
     

Tips:

  1. Tip: If your bags are heavy, consider using curbside check-in. You’ll pay a fee per bag, and you’ll need to tip the Skycap, but you won’t have to haul your bags yourself. At some airports, curbside check-in is located several yards away from the doorway that leads to your airline’s check-in counter.

What You Need:

  • Flight confirmation number
  • Credit card (optional)
  • Frequent flyer number (optional)
  • Baggage to check
  • Government-issued photo I. D.
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